During Real Madrid’s fairly pedestrian demolition of newly promoted Elche last Tuesday, Cristiano Ronaldo scored his second hat trick in as many games for Los Blancos. Ronaldo actually scored four goals against Elche, but, you know, he scored a hat trick along the way. Enough semantics though.
“Ron Ron the Goal Scoring Machine,” as we like to call him at The18, is no stranger to hat tricks. Until recently, however, the age old debate of quality verse quantity was no contest. Ronaldo and those who love him had no reason to care about how many hat tricks he had when they just wanted to repeatedly watch moments of glory like these:
After the events of this past week, the debate is getting a little more interesting. The quantity of Ron Ron’s hat tricks is reaching historic proportions. He will soon over take the joint record holders for most all-time hat tricks in La Liga: Telmo Zarra and Alfredo Di Stefano.
To put things into perspective, Zarra and Di Stefano both played in La Liga in the middle of the last century. This record has stood for a long, long time. Long enough for Real Madrid to build a statue in honor of Di Stefano. In all that time, with all the world class players that have passed through La Liga, no one has been able to top 22 hat tricks. Ronaldo could very well do it this weekend.
What is even more impressive than the total number of hat tricks is the rate at which Ronaldo has scored his hat tricks. Ronaldo has taken 8.0 games to score a hat trick throughout his time in La Liga (21 hat tricks in 169 matches), a rate much faster than Zarra’s 12.5 games per hat trick (22 in 277) and Di Stefano’s 12.9 games per hat trick (22 in 284). And then there’s Messi, who is downright slacking at rate of a hat trick every 14.8 games (19 in 281).
OK, OK, that’s not quite fair, as Ronaldo entered La Liga in his prime, years after Messi debuted as a teenager. But if we’re in the business of making things even, Di Stefano didn’t come to La Liga until he was 27. That means he was 10 years and 3 years older than Messi and Ronaldo, respectively, when he entered.
Now, Ronaldo has long been in the shadow of Messi, but this past year has been a bit of a coming out party - if that’s possible for a former FIFA World Player of the Year. He won the Ballon d’Or, scored the most league goals, and this year he will probably become the King of Hat Tricks in La Liga.
Ronaldo breaking the La Liga hat trick record is an eventuality. And, while it is just as likely that Messi will pass the old mark as well, it is entirely possible that Messi will never catch up to Ronaldo.
If Ron Ron finishes his career ahead of Messi as the sole record holder for all-time hat tricks, it would be a big check mark in his column in the constant discussion concerning who is the greatest player of all time. It is a little ironic, then, that for a player of such high quality, quantity may end up being a bigger part of his legacy.